Sunday, October 26, 2008

Review: Testimony

"Sometimes Mike wished he had just slipped the offensive tape into a pot of boiling water, or sent it out with the trash in a white plastic drawstring bag, or spooled it out with a pencil and wadded it into a big mess."

In Testimony, best-selling author Anita Shreve examines how a single event can have a multitude of consequences.

On one fateful night, in a dorm room of a prestigious Vermont boarding school, a videotape is made...a tape showing three upperclassmen, prominent basketball stars, and one freshman girl performing a variety of sexual acts, all clearly under the influence. The incident triggers a series of questions. Why would the school's highest stars put themselves in this position? Furthermore, why was it taped? Was the girl a victim or an active and willing participant?

The tape ends up in the possession of the school's headmaster, Mike Bordwin, and his decisions with what to do with it, how to handle the situation, and who, and what, to protect have long-lasting repercussions.

Fast forward to nearly two years after the scandal that ripped apart a town, a school, and a host of families, and the wounds are re-opened when a graduate student from the University of Vermont contacts everyone involved for her study of alcohol and male behaviors in secondary schools.

The story is told through her interviews, ranging from the most marginal to the very students on the tape. This particular approach could have been confusing, given the vast number of perspectives, but it instead makes for a well-rounded telling of the tale, with each person adding details to construct the complete story. One narrator alone could not have told this story.

Along the way, it is revealed exactly how the boys ended up in the room with the girl, the events that triggered the tragic episode and the fallout that came as a result.

Shreve does a masterful job at drawing out the story, releasing details piece by piece, building intrigue as she outlines what led up to that night and its painful aftermath.

I've read everything Shreve has written, and I'm a huge fan. Her latest does not disappoint.

16 comments:

Serena said...

I completely agree! I loved this book. Here's the link to my review:
http://savvyverseandwit.blogspot.com/2008/10/testimony-by-anita-shreve.html

I've added your link to the post as well.

Mary said...

I've read a couple of Shreve's books and I think this ranks at the top (so far). I posted a review yesterday.

Literary Feline said...

I am looking forward to reading this one quite a bit. Thank you for the wonderful review! I have only read one Anita Shreve book so far, and I really enjoyed it. I love the author's writing style.

Les said...

This is the second review I've read this morning for this book. It sounds like a winner, especially since I'm a big fan of Shreve's works.

Audrey said...

I haven't read this yet, but I have enjoyed her earlier books. (I love your blog title, btw!)
Audrey

bermudaonion said...

You are so right - Shreve is a masterful storyteller. This is a great book.

sheIsTooFondOfBooks said...

I haven't read *Testimony*, it's waiting on my bookshelf for me :)

I've enjoyed her other books, and your review makes me think that I won't be disappointed by her latest!

Lisa said...

I just recently bought All He Ever Wanted and haven't read it yet. Testimony is on my Wish List. Your review was very good!

Wendy said...

Fabulous review, Jill! As you know, I agree with you :)

Diane said...

I have been a Shreve fan for years, and have read all of her books. I loved this book as well. I read the ARC in September. Great Review.

S. Krishna said...

I thought this book was great as well. Nice review!

iubookgirl said...

Thanks for the comment on my review. You are right...the different voices could have gotten very confusing, but successfully done was a great way to tell the story. I added a link to your review on my post.

kath said...

Hi! I just noticed that you had visited my blog recently, and wanted to return the visit.

Beautiful blog!

Dar said...

Great review Jill. I had some trouble with the way it was written but still thought it was really good. I too will be watching for what Shreve does next as I've been a fan for a long time.

Anna said...

Can't wait to read this one. Hopefully my copy will arrive soon. I've enjoyed all of Shreve's other novels, and I'm glad this one has been receiving favorable reviews.

--Anna
Diary of an Eccentric

Tina Van Dyn Hoven said...

I just came across your review of this book and it sounds so good! This book has been sitting on my shelf for quite a while, and I always want to pick it up, but seem to forget about it with all the other books waiting to be read. Definitely going to grab this next (: